Yard Barbers aims to be a cut above
When the Covid-19 lockdown ended earlier this year, many homeowners were left with wildly overgrown lawns.
Kion Knights, 23, saw opportunity in the weeds.
In April, he had just returned home after finishing a four-year marketing programme at the University of Southampton in Southampton, England.
“I had no concrete plans,” he said. “When I was about 13 I would go around cutting lawns for money.”
He still had a lawnmower and a weed whacker.
“I said let me do that now,” he said. Yard Barbers was born.
“My girlfriend Zoe Lopes and I were part of the first group quarantined at the Fairmont Southampton Princess,” he said. “That gave me plenty of time to think.”
He set up a Facebook page and sent out advertisements through social media.
His first client contacted him before he even left the hotel, and after 1½ months in business, he had nearly 20 clients.
His typical clients are homeowners between the ages of 35 and 50.
As demand grew he began to see Yard Barbers' potential as a full-time enterprise.
His mother told him about an eight-week student entrepreneurial programme running at the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation to help him build up his business.
“I applied to it and was accepted,” he said. “During that course in July, they gave us $900 to inject into our businesses. They also had first, second and third cash prizes. My business idea came first and I won $1,000.
“I would say the most important lesson I got from them was be persistent and consistent,” he said. “Even if the business is going slow don't take that as a bad thing. Keep grinding away. Keep doing what you have to do to move forward. I learnt don't be afraid to fail.”
Now his biggest challenge is transportation. At the moment, he borrows his parents' car to get to clients, but he is looking at buying a van of his own.
“That would allow me to move freely at my own pace and get jobs done at my own speed,” he said.
Mr Knights said it has been a little challenging to change his mindset from hustle to full-time operation.
“Now I have to think of stuff like payroll tax and social insurance,” he said.
But charging at rates comparable to other landscaping firms, he is finding the work profitable.
“There are a lot of landscaping firms out there,” he said. “What sets me apart, especially right now in our current economic client, is being Bermudian, being young, and having a desire to do a job that not a lot of Bermudians want. I am trying to come up with different ways to set myself apart, but landscaping is straightforward. It just depends on what the client wants. I try to put my best into each person's yard.”
His marketing experience is proving useful in helping him to promote Yard Barbers. He tries to utilise social media in a way that many of his competitors haven't caught on to yet.
But after those initial advertisements he sent out while quarantined, he hasn't needed to create any others on social media. Word of mouth has done the rest.
“I have T-shirts that I wear when I go to the store,” he said. “Sometimes people see the T-shirt and say, ‘Yard Barbers' that is a cool name.”
And he is finding the work rewarding.
“I don't mind doing it,” he said. “It is satisfying to look back and see a well cut lawn.”
• For more information about Yard Barbers e-mail email@example.com, or call 293-2380. See them on Facebook @lawnnstarzz or call 293-2380